Pork Ribs

Great Barbecue Ribs Slow Smoked to Perfection

Smoked barbecue ribs
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Pork Ribs have a long tradition in the old style world of barbecue, ranking with brisket and pulled pork in competitions as a true art form.

As with all traditional Barbecue, pork ribs should be cooked low and slow with a good dose of smoke. This process will require a smoker of some kind although you can do it with a kettle charcoal grill. You will need a 225 degree F/110 degree C temperature, smoke, and patience. I full rack of ribs can be smoked in about 4 hours but, if you have the time try and go the distance. The longer you smoke the more flavor it will produce.

The first step in making pork ribs is to prepare the rack. Let the ribs come up to room temperature, rinse off in cold water and remove the membrane from the back. Some people will say that you don't have to remove the membrane but I feel that it's a must. The membrane blocks the uptake of smoke and creates a barrier to your seasonings.

To remove the membrane lay the ribs on a flat surface meat side down. Take a sharp knife and begin peeling the membrane from one corner near the bone. In most cases, a lobster fork works well for this job. Once you have a good piece peeled back, grasp it with a paper towel to establish a firm grip and begin pulling. If the membrane is intact, it shouldn't be too much trouble to remove.

With the membrane removed, rinse off the ribs again and pat dry with paper towels. Now one trickĀ  used by several barbecue competitors is to coat the ribs with prepared yellow mustard. There is no need to use a gourmet or expensive product since the smoking process will remove the mustard flavor. This coating seals the seasonings in place and provides a nice crust over the surface of the ribs.

If you are of a mind that the rub should be rubbed into the pork ribs then you can place it on first and then carefully apply the mustard. Or you can sprinkle the rub over the mustard, or use a mustard based rub. It's really a matter of preference.

Once the pork ribs are seasoned and the smoker is ready then you are set to go. Personally, I use a blend of oak, hickory and a little mesquite in the firebox, but I'm sure with a little experimentation you can come up with the kind of smoke you prefer. Place the ribs in the smoker and let it go. A good smoking temperature in the area of 225 degrees F/110 degrees C. You can go lower if you plan on doing a long smoke, but I don't recommend going higher.

At this rate, the ribs should be cooked through and tender after 4 hours. Go longer if you can. The longer you smoke at a low temperature the more tender and flavorful the ribs will be. Remember that you need to hit an internal temperature of 165 degrees F/75 degrees C before they can be served. Have a meat thermometer ready.

To serve, I cut the ribs individually. I find no reason for a finishing sauce but if you are a big fan of sauces and can't imagine serving without sauce, then I suggest a thin one that won't overpower the flavor of the ribs.